LeRoy Raymond Ohlson, 71, passed away peacefully on Tuesday morning, December 20, 2016 at the Minnewaska Lutheran Home in Starbuck. Lee was surrounded by his family as he passed on to heaven and was freed from his battle with Alzheimer’s. Memorial services were held on Wednesday December 28, at Hazel Run Lutheran Church. Military Honors were performed by members of the Anderson – Tongen American Legion Post 559 immediately following the service. Interment will take place next spring in the church cemetery.
Lee was born on August 2, 1945 in Granite Falls, to parents Audrey Irene Blanche (Anderson) and Raymond Frederick Ohlson. He and his sister Donna were raised on the family farm near Hazel Run and Clarkfield. Lee was a lifelong member of the church he loved, Hazel Run Lutheran. He often talked about his church memories, including attending bible school and confirmation classes with friends, and his mother Audrey being a choir director. Lee served as a church trustee, president of the annual Men’s Supper, and coach of the youth softball team.
Lee attended kindergarten at the District 28 one-room school house across the section from his home. He then attended elementary and high school in Clarkfield, where he graduated in 1963. He was a talented athlete, playing baseball and basketball and running cross country and track. In his senior year, Lee won every cross country event until the state meet at Lake Nokomis Park in Minneapolis. He still holds the school record in the mile.
In 6th grade, Lee met the “love of his life” when a girl with long red hair moved into the district, Brenda Wollmuth, who would become his best friend and wife. Lee and Brenda were married on August 8, 1964 at Clarkfield Lutheran Church. To this union three children were born: Taunja, Stacy, and Aaron. Lee and Brenda were married 52 years. In 1966 Lee enlisted in the U.S. Army and was stationed at Fort Wainwright in Fairbanks, Alaska during the Vietnam Conflict. He served as a Personnel Specialist-5.
The couple spent 2 1/2 years in Alaska where daughter Taunja was born. Lee was honorably discharged on December 22, 1968. Lee was proud of his service and continued to be involved with American Legion Post 559, where he served as Commander and also organized the annual Legion golf tournaments. In 1968 the couple returned to Clark-field and Lee attended a year of college at Southwest State University in Marshall. While living in Clarkfield, daughter Stacy was born. He worked as a pressman for the Tyler Journal in Tyler, and then as a store manager for Montgomery Wards and Shopko in Marshall, and Shopko and Continental Press in St. Cloud.
In 1975 Lee returned to Hazel Run to take over the family farm, and two years later son Aaron was born. Lee farmed until his retirement in 2007, and the couple moved to their home on Lake Minnewaska full time in 2013. While farming, Lee also worked as a salesman for the Canby Print Shop, and in 1991 supported Brenda as she opened a printing business in Clarkfield. Lee served as the Ink Spot’s pressman and business partner. During those years the couple published the “Hazel Run Highlights” newsletter.
Besides spending time on the lake, Lee and Brenda enjoyed traveling on bus tours; snow birding in Casa Grande, AZ; meeting new people and doing home improvement projects. There was nothing Lee could not build, fix or remodel.
In recent years, Lee’s favorite pastime was attending his grandchildren’s sporting events. He was their number one fan, and always made sure they knew how proud he was and how much he loved them. Lee’s hobbies included softball, golf, shooting hoops, snowmobiling, teasing, playing pranks and watching old Westerns. He loved music of all kinds: Garth Brooks, El Divo, Alan Jackson, the Gaithers and Point of Grace.
In Lee’s final year, when Alzheimer’s had robbed him of many things, he still appreciated and responded to music, particularly during chapel time. Lee had a lifelong dream to earn a sport plane pilot’s license. He passed the written exam in 2007, but was unable to continue to the next steps due to the early onset of Alzheimer’s.
Lee moved to the Minnewaska Lutheran Home in Starbuck in June of 2015, where he was lovingly cared for by a wonderful staff.
Lee is survived by his devoted wife Brenda; daughter Taunja (Brad) Kelvington of Foley; daughter Stacy (David) Hinz of Granite Falls; son Aaron Ohlson of Sioux Falls, SD; grandchildren Luke and Haley Kelvington; Court-ney, Jordan and Madison Hinz; Aaeden Ohlson; sister Donna (Wendy) Hartfiel; nephews Loren, Lane and Lance Hartfiel and their families; brother-in-law Dean (Nancy) Wollmuth and their family; aunt Dorothy (Anderson) Hinrichs and cousins of Big Lake; three God daughters: Kim (John-son) Berbaum, Lora Berthiaume, and Shelly (Husby) Larson; and many friends. Lee was preceded in death by his parents Ray and Audrey; in-laws Edwin and Arlene Wollmuth; step mother-in-law, Shirley Saue; niece Alecia Wollmuth; and uncle Charles Anderson